Addictions to things that are not tangible substances can be difficult to understand. People who suffer from impulsive addictions like sex addiction, shopping addiction, or even people who are addicted to their work, are experiencing processing addictions. Processing addictions are not about the end goal of the process, but the entire process in itself. Alcoholism and drug addiction become about the process as well, but the brain focuses on receiving pleasure from certain substances. Drinking and doing drugs have little to do with the disorder itself. Much in the same way, eating disorders aren’t really about food, sex addiction isn’t actually about the sex, and shopping addiction isn’t really about the material items. The same is applied to gambling addiction. It’s not about the money or even the gambling.
Myths surround gambling addiction, just like any addictive disorder, because people try to make sense of what they don’t know. Gambling addiction can completely cripple one’s life. Insurmountable debt, webs of tangled lies, stealing, cheating, even potential violence and crime are possible reality for a gambling addict. Before writing a gambling addiction off as a ‘problem with money’ understand some of these key facts first.
Gambling Addiction isn’t about Money
Addiction as a whole is a ‘selfish’ disease. Of course, the brain has become imbalanced causing an individual to act in ways that might be seen as offensive to most. Neuroscience reveals that this isn’t because addicts are sick people. Their brains are seeking out pleasure as a means of survival. Pleasure can look different ways to a gambling addict. Some gamblers play for thrill as a form of escapism, much like an alcoholic drinking to get away from it all. Other gamblers play in an effort to demonstrate their worth. Gambling games can be a demonstration of intelligence and wit, as much as chance or luck.
Gambling Addiction isn’t about Autonomy
Gambling towns like Las Vegas thrive on mental-marketing tactics. Every component of a casino is geared toward tricking the brain into wanting to spend more money. Yet, a person is encouraged to “walk away” from a table while they’re “ahead” before they lose everything they have won so far. What keeps a person from walking away when they know they could lose everything? That sort of impulse is what drives a gambling addict back to the betting tables multiple times a day. Except, they’re not risking their vacation gambling budget. They might be risking their homes, vehicles, and relationships with family. Gambling addicts’ brains have been ‘tricked’ in an extreme way.
Gambling Addicts face the same neurobiological change that drug and alcohol addicts do. Aurora Recovery Center offers a program for gambling addiction.